If you have neck, back, or knee pain, saddle sores, or hand or foot numbness, your bicycle probably doesn’t fit you properly. Good bike fit can also improve your pedalling efficiency and aerodynamics and actually make you faster.
Adjusting the Saddle
In most cases your saddle should be level to support your full body weight and allow you to move around on the seat when necessary. We do at times adjust the saddle nose down for Time trial bike setups. Too much upward tilt can result in pressure points. Too much downward tilt can make you slide forward while riding and put extra pressure on your arms, hands knees and quads.
I typically adjust the saddle height according to what we find in our medical check. Certain knee conditions suggest different angles.
If the handlebars are too high, too low, too close, or too far away, you may have neck, shoulder, back, and hand pain. A proper reach allows you to comfortably use all the positions on the handlebars and to comfortably bend your elbows while riding. There are other, more advanced adjustments you can make, such as changing the handlebar width or height. Many of the bikes I see have been set so aggressively that the cyclist seldom if ever gets down into the drops.
Causes of Pain
The slightest physical imbalance can lead to pain.
Here are some common complaints and possible solutions.
Knee pain is usually associated with a seat position that is too high or low or far forward or back. Improper bike shoe or cleat position can also cause knee pain.
A seat that is too high will cause pain in the back of the knee. A seat too high will also cause your hips to rock side to side, which may cause discomfort.
We measure these critical angels via a computer programme that we developed. Without the aid of such equipment you will never get accurate measurements.
Improper foot position on the pedal (or improper cleat alignment) can cause pain on the inside or outside of your knees.
Another cause of knee pain is using too high a gear. Try to use a gear that allows you to pedal quickly, from 70 to 100 strokes per minute.
Neck pain is another common cycling complaint, and is usually the result of riding a bike that is too long or having handlebars that are too low.
Tight hamstring and hip flexor muscles can also cause neck pain by forcing your spine to round or arch, and your neck to hyperextend. Trigger point and soft tissue release can be very helpful in case like this. Core strength and flexibility are critical.
Foot pain or numbness is often the result of wearing soft-soled shoes. Special shoes designed for cycling have stiff soles that distribute pressure evenly over the pedal. This also helps you pedal more efficiently. Foot pain can also be caused by using too high a gear, which results in more pressure where the foot meets the pedal. Getting the cleat position is vital. You might also need added arch and/or foot varus support.
Hand pain or numbness can be prevented by wearing padded cycling gloves that provide cushioning. You should ride with your elbows slightly bent, not straight or locked. Bent elbows will act as shock absorbers and help absorb the bumps in the road. Changing hand positions on the handlebars can also reduce pressure and pain.
Hope this helps. We are here to do our very best in setting up your bike.